Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 97D406. Honorable Michael Q. Jones, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Myerscough
On June 23, 1997, petitioner, Kelly Gene Wassom, filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. On August 12, 1997, the trial court entered a dissolution judgment. On August 21, 2003, Kelly filed a petition to modify the judgment of dissolution of marriage. On September 10, 2003, respondent, Rita Irene Wassom, filed a response to Kelly's petition to modify and a petition for adjudication of indirect civil contempt for the recovery of health insurance premiums and medical payments for their son, Jessie M. Wassom. On October 29, 2003, the court found Kelly was not in indirect civil contempt of court but entered judgment in favor of Rita, ordering Kelly to pay 50% of all health insurance premiums paid by Rita.
Kelly appeals, arguing (1) the court improperly interpreted the marital settlement agreement between the parties as to whether he is responsible for half of the health insurance premiums that Rita pays, and (2) even if the court's decision on this issue is correct, Kelly is entitled to a setoff based on previous child support payments made in excess of the required amount. We affirm.
On December 23, 1994, Kelly and Rita married each other for the second time. On June 23, 1997, Kelly filed a petition for dissolution of marriage and for other relief. On October 15, 1998, the trial court entered a judgment of dissolution of marriage. In the judgment, the court approved the parties' marital settlement agreement.
In summer 2003, Rita sold her home in Tolono, Illinois, and moved to Urbana, Illinois. On August 21, 2003, Kelly, worried for Jessie's emotional well-being and high school athletic career, filed a petition to modify the judgment of dissolution of marriage. In it, Kelly requested Jessie's custody so that Jessie could continue to attend Unity High School in Tolono, Illinois.
On September 10, 2003, Rita filed a response, stating despite her move to Urbana, Jessie would continue to attend Unity High School in Tolono. Rita also filed a petition for adjudication of indirect civil contempt, alleging Kelly had failed to pay health insurance premiums and uncovered medical expenses pursuant to the marital settlement agreement.
According to Rita, she spent $25,416 on health insurance premiums. Rita, however, concedes that Kelly owes her only $11,426.11 in premiums since a few payments were made on the health insurance premiums prior to the dissolution of their marriage. She also claims that Kelly owes her $378.75 for medical bills paid to Christie Clinic for Jessie.
Kelly argues that the insurance premiums were actually paid by Rita's employer, not Rita, and therefore, he should not be responsible for them. Kelly further claims that even if Rita had paid the premiums, he should only be responsible for 50% of the premiums paid for Jessie, not for those paid for Rita. Finally, Kelly argues he is entitled to offset premium payments amounting to $3,400 because of monthly child support overpayments of $120 paid between January 2001 and July 2003.
The issue on appeal centers on article III, "SUPPORT OF CHILDREN AND RELATED MATTERS," of the marital settlement agreement, which states as follows:
"1. HUSBAND will pay to WIFE child support based upon approximately 20 percent of his net income from his current employment. The exact amount of said child support at the current time is the sum of $200.00 per month. Wife acknowledge[s] that the amount agreed on is less than 20 percent of his net income for the reason that it is contemplated that Jessie will spend a great deal of time with the HUSBAND.
2. WIFE will carry the child on her health insurance, and the parties will equally divide any uncovered medical, dental, or orthodontic expenses on a 50/50 basis. In the event she can no longer obtain health insurance through her employment, then HUSBAND will make every effort to obtain health insurance. In addition to the child support in [a]rticle III, [p]aragraph 1, the HUSBAND will reimburse the WIFE for 50 percent of the health insurance premiums currently being paid by the WIFE."
On October 29, 2003, the trial court conducted a hearing on Kelly's petition to modify. Michael Dummit, Rita's immediate superior, testified that Rita's employer provides insurance to Rita and Jessie. Dummit explained that the money paid to cover health care is paid directly by the union but indirectly through employees' negotiated benefit packages. Under this plan, monthly health insurance premium payments ranging from $303.80 to $512 are taken from Rita's pay. Rita never has access to the money deducted for health insurance premiums, but the premiums were considered to be an amount that would have been added to her paycheck had she not applied for the health insurance plan. For example, if there is a $1 raise in Rita's pay, 50 cents is reflected in her paycheck, while the rest pays the health coverage premiums. Dummit also stated Rita was insured under this plan prior to the dissolution of the marriage, and the premium for this coverage remains the same regardless of the number of dependents.
Relying on the above testimony, the trial court found that the money used to pay the premium was part of Rita's compensation. The court then found that Rita's premium was based on the average number of participants in the entire plan, and Rita's premium payments cover both herself and Jessie. The court also determined that the parties' marital settlement agreement controls their respective responsibilities for the health insurance premium and the agreement requires Kelly to reimburse Rita for half of the premiums that she pays.
On October 29, 2003, the trial court entered judgment against Kelly in the amount of $11,426.11 for health insurance premiums and $378.75 for charges ...